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27.04.2021

Ballaquayle Hoard

a stunning collection of Viking-era artifacts discovered on the Isle of Man has been declared a treasure by Isle of Man investigator Mrs. Jane Hughes.

The find, of international significance, consists of a gold bracelet, a massive silver brooch, at least one silver armband, and other related finds buried around AD 950. It was discovered in late 2020 by metal detector Cat Giles while searching for metals on private property.

The gold hand ring is made of three woven gold rods, both ends of which merge into a flat diamond-shaped band that is fully decorated with a stamped pattern of groups of three dots.

Earlier finds of Viking-era gold rings from the island include one found in the Ballacquale hoard at Douglas in the 1890s, much simpler in design. Three Viking-era gold finger rings have previously been found on the Isle of Man and one solid gold bar. This suggests that there may have been gold mining on the island during the Viking Age, and that the island was home to some particularly wealthy people at the time. This gold hand ring confirms these theories.

The silver brooch is known as a "ball-type thistle brooch." It is large - the hoop is about 20 cm in diameter and the pin is about 50 cm long. Even though the brooch is bent and broken, and only missing some small details, it is finished. It was worn on the shoulder to hold heavy clothing, such as a cloak, in place with the point of the pin up. The brooch is one of the largest examples of this type ever discovered. The brooch has an intricate design on the pin and terminals, and as with the armband ring, the brooch would have been a direct visual indicator of the wearer's wealth. It may not have been intended for everyday use. The script is thought to have originated in the Irish Sea area - perhaps the brooch was made on the Isle of Man.

The hoard also contained the remains of at least one decorated silver armband, carved in antiquity.

Both whole and cut gold and silver pieces from the Viking Age have been found on the island before. Most were the result of deliberate placement of "hoards" of materials presumably buried during the threat, with the intention of the original owner to recover the artifacts at a later date.

Nevertheless, this ring and brooch are the first of their kind found on the island and add significantly to the picture of wealth circulating on the island and around the Irish Sea as a whole more than a thousand years ago.

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